Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

copperhead

[kop-er-hed]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a venomous snake, Agkistrodon (Ancistrodon) contortrix, of the eastern and southern U.S., having a light-brown to copper-red body marked with darker bands.
  2. an extremely venomous but sluggish snake, Denisonia superba, of Australia and Tasmania, having a reddish to black body, depending on the region.
  3. (initial capital letter) U.S. History. a Northern Democrat who opposed the Civil War, advocating peace and restoration of the Union even if slavery continued.
  4. (initial capital letter) Military. a finned, 155mm cannon-launched U.S. Army artillery shell that homes on the target, using the reflection of a laser beam projected by a forward observer.

Origin of copperhead

An Americanism dating back to 1765–75; copper1 + head
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for copperhead

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The Copperhead derives its name from the copperish tint on its head.

    Pathfinder

    Alan Douglas

  • The said Copperhead became in due time a Republican office-holder, and is one yet.

    Memoirs

    Charles Godfrey Leland

  • The Copperhead remarked: 'I was always too smart for that, I was.'

  • Mr. Copperhead had risen from the ranks; yet not altogether from the ranks.

    Phoebe, Junior

    Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant

  • I see your mother looking for you, and Mr. Copperhead might not like it.

    Phoebe, Junior

    Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant


British Dictionary definitions for copperhead

copperhead

noun
  1. a venomous reddish-brown snake, Agkistrodon contortrix, of the eastern US: family Crotalidae (pit vipers)
  2. a venomous reddish-brown Australian elapid snake, Denisonia superba
  3. US informal a Yankee supporter of the South during the Civil War
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for copperhead

n.

Trigonocephalus contortrix, 1775, American English, so called for color markings between its eyes; see copper + head (n.). Poisonous "sneak snakes" (because they bite without warning), the name is said to have been first used in reference to Northerners suspected of Southern sympathies in Greeley's New York "Tribune," July 20, 1861. Charles H. Coleman, "The Use of the Term 'Copperhead' During the Civil War" ["Mississippi Valley Historical Review" 25 (1938), p.263] traces it to an anonymous letter against Ohio anti-war Democrats in the Cincinnati "Commercial" newspaper in the summer of 1861. It seems not to have been in widespread use until summer 1862.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper